Begawan foundation seeks to offer regenerative programs that assist both wildlife and local communities around them.
Long, long ago, three holy men, “Begawantha”, found a fertile forest. They cultivated the hills and valleys, built a retreat, and developed a centre of learning and culture. Today, this area is known as Begawan, located in Melinggih Kelod Village, Payangan. Echoing the experiences of the learning centre of a thousand years ago, in 2001, Begawan Foundation was established.
Initiatives at Begawan have been developed to create solutions to critical challenges existing in rural Bali, with three leading programs – conservation, education, and farming. Conservation focuses on breeding and releasing the critically endangered Bali Starling, Bali’s iconic mascot. Since its establishment, Begawan has released Bali Starlings in carefully considered locations in Bali, such as Nusa Penida and Sibang. Mellinggih Kelod, one of the few places where people can sight free-flying Bali Starling in the wild, is now the focus, with the goal to release 20 Starlings yearly. Local customary law, awig-awig, protects these birds. A community-based foster parent initiative also allows the participation of communities in the conservation program.
Begawan provides free high-quality education opportunities for rural Balinese children. Since its establishment, Begawan has taught over 2,500 children, and since 2018, the education initiative has focused within its own community, Payangan. After collaborating with an international ed-tech consultant, Begawan continues to develop its own programs , incorporating international and national curriculums with a Bali-centric focus. After -school learning experiences, which run six days a week, are created with the students to give them opportunities to respond to real-life needs and challenges.
The goal is to develop a knowledgeable and skilled young generation to break the cycle of poverty.
During the pandemic of COVID-19, Begawan began researching agriculture. Rice farming is strongly linked to Bali’s social, cultural, and religious way of life. Subak, the water irrigation system on which the rice cycle is based, began in Bali over a thousand years ago. However, much of Bali’s traditional agricultural system has shifted since the Green Revolution. Intensive use of agrochemicals damaged the soil, the environment, and the broader ecological system. With tourism, one of Bali’s biggest drawcards, the picturesque rice fields, are under threat. The farmers’ temptation to sell their fields is often too great for struggling farmers who barely make enough for their own needs.
Understanding the significant history and threats to agriculture in Bali, Begawan welcomed 2022 with a regenerative farming program, collaborating with its local community. This program has three main objectives: to assist local farmers in changing to regenerative agriculture practices, to educate people about the importance of agriculture, and to work with farmers to produce quality agricultural produce with a higher value and profit return.
Our first program, the cultivation of Balinese heritage rice within five plots of a local farmer’s rice fields, is to change from agrochemical-based rice farming to the production of healthy rice, using only natural fertilisers, weed, and pest controls.
The first cycle was a success, within two months all harvested grain was distributed to the hospitality industry in Bali. More local farmers are joining Begawan’s rice project, and in this second cycle, the foundation and the farmers will cultivate almost 1 hectare of rice fields.
The foundation aims to broaden its impact by linking with tourism in Bali. We are now open for visitors to immerse themselves in Begawan’s guest experiences: ‘Visit Breeding & Release Centre’, ‘Visit Learning Centre’, ‘Visit the Regenerative Rice Fields, the Subak Temple & Permaculture Farm Garden’, and ‘Begawan Bird Walk’.
The Breeding and Release Centre, the Learning Centre, Biji – the foundation’s restaurant, will be opening in 2023, the Regenerative Rice Fields, and Permaculture Farm
Garden are all located in one village. This is the start of a Learning Village, where we welcome all to participate in learning about conservation, progressive education,
and regenerative farming. Begawan would be delighted to invite stakeholders and participants in the B20, WEF, and G20 who have the same mission as Begawan for
partnership and collaboration. Let us hear from you!